Who are the hosts, the names to watch out for, all the family connections, and more in our FAQs
The 15th edition of the Under-19 men’s World Cup is set to begin on Friday. Here is all the information you need about the tournament.
When does the tournament get underway?
The 2024 Under-19 World Cup will begin on January 19, with USA taking on Ireland, and South Africa facing West Indies. The final is scheduled for February 11.
Where are the matches being played?
South Africa are the hosts, and the games will be played across Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, Benoni, Kimberley and East London. The semi-finals and the final will all be played in Benoni.
Hold on, Sri Lanka were supposed to be the hosts, right?
Indeed. This edition of the Under-19 World Cup was supposed to be played in Sri Lanka. But that was until the ICC suspended Sri Lanka Cricket in November because of extensive government interference in the board’s administration. This led to the shifting of the biennial tournament to South Africa, making them hosts for the third time – after 1998 and 2020.
So what’s going to be the format? Is it going to be the same as in the previous edition?
Not quite. There has been a tweak in the format this time around, and the competition will follow the format used in last year’s women’s Under-19 World Cup. The 16 teams will be divided into groups of four each, with the top three teams from each group qualifying for the Super Sixes stage, where the 12 teams will be divided into two groups of six each. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.
However, even for the four teams that get eliminated in the group stage, it won’t be the end of the tournament, as the players will get crucial playing time through playoffs to decide the teams’ positions from 13th through to 16th.
How did the teams qualify?
While South Africa automatically qualified as the hosts, the ten other Full Member nations that had participated in the 2022 edition also got automatic qualification. The other five teams made it through the regional qualifiers.
New Zealand, who had opted out of the previous edition due to the quarantine protocols for minors, progressed from the East Asia Pacific qualifiers. Namibia won the African qualifiers, while Nepal emerged on top in Asia. Scotland won the European qualifiers, while USA topped the Americas qualifying group.
Any teams playing the World Cup for the first time?
Nope. All teams participating this year have qualified for previous editions of the Under-19 World Cup. USA are the most inexperienced team, even as this will be their third time in the competition.
Who are some players to look out for?
There are plenty of exciting talents who will be on display in the Under-19 World Cup. There’s India’s seam-bowling allrounder Arshin Kulkarni, who opens the batting. Rahman Hekmat is an Afghan-origin legspinner inspired by Shane Warne and of course Rashid Khan, but who will turn out for New Zealand. Pakistan’s Ubaid Shah, Afghanistan’s Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar and England’s Luc Benkenstein are just a few of the other names who may shine in the tournament.
Ubaid Shah? That surname sounds common!
Well, that’s because Ubaid is the brother of Pakistan international Naseem Shah. And that’s not the only familial name in the competition!
Mohammad Nabi’s son and Rashid Khan’s nephew will be teaming up for Afghanistan, while Luc is the son of former South Africa batter Dale Benkenstein. Sarfaraz Khan, who had starred in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup for India, will have his brother Musheer in action this year. These are just a few of the multiple family connections at the Under-19 World Cup this time.
Who are the defending champions?
India had won the tournament, last held in 2022, under Yash Dhull’s captaincy, by beating England in the final. India are also the most successful team in the competition’s history, winning it five times – in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018 – before their last triumph.
Who are some of the other successful countries in the Under-19 World Cup?
Australia have won the tournament three times – in 1988, 2002 and 2010 – while Pakistan have clinched the title twice, in 2004 and 2006. Bangladesh (2020), South Africa (2014), West Indies (2016) and England (1998) have won the tournament once each.
Finally, will the matches this time have DRS?
While there will be a TV umpire for every game, DRS will not be available in the tournament.
Abhimanyu Bose is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo